– Episode SIX –

Body Weapons and Primary Targets

About The Empowerment Podcast

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In this podcast, created as a platform to teach you everything she knows about self-defense, join host Silvia Smart in this safe space. With over three decades on the frontlines, she’ll give you skills and knowledge for your self-defense toolkit so you can live your most fearless and empowered life. Research proves that empowerment self-defense programs work. Participants are less fearful, more aware of their boundaries, and are able to speak up sooner when faced with manipulative or threatening situations. Furthermore, for those who have experienced trauma in the past, evidence shows that empowerment self-defense training can interrupt the cycle of violence and decrease the likelihood of a future assault.

the continuum of sexual assault

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Please share this episode far and wide. Together, we can create a kinder and safer world, one relationship at a time. We’ve got this!

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
• Call 911
• Call Your Local Non-Emergency Police Phone Number: Directory by City
• Report to the FBI
• Contact Your Local FBI Field Office
• FBI Phone #: 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324)

Connect with Silvia
Trauma Informed Active Shooter Trainings with Silvia

Special thanks to my editor, Henry Smart-Denson

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I wanted to find out more and am thrilled to introduce you to Brandon Wolf, the Press Secretary of Equality Florida.

In April 2023, Brandon’s organization, Equality Florida warned against traveling to the state of Florida for folks in the LGBTQ+ community saying it could be risky and potentially unsafe. The warning says: “Taken in their totality, Florida’s slate of laws and policies targeting basic freedoms and rights pose a serious risk to the health and safety of those traveling to the state.”
The League of United Latin American Citizens issued its own warning, saying bluntly: “Traveling to Florida is dangerous.” The advisory goes on to say travel in Florida “can be unsafe for people of color, individuals who speak with an accent, and international travelers,” and people in those groups could face “a heightened risk of harassment, possible detainment, and potential family separation based on racial profiling.”

From the New York Times: The NAACP became the latest to issue a travel advisory to the Sunshine State, warning that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools” have turned the state into an openly hostile place for people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”

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Cults and charismatic leaders with ill intent are everywhere – Qanon, NXIVM, Scientology, and The Children of God, are just a few examples. Cults and narcissistic, manipulative, and sociopathic leaders exist within conspiratorial cultures, churches, and spiritual groups. People get stuck in these systems – especially when they are vulnerable. Learn the signs so you can protect yourself and stay safe.

Audio Transcription


This podcast is brought to you by the empowerment project.

Research proves that empowerment self-defense training makes you safer period. I want you to have a great self-defense toolkit so you can create strong boundaries, speak with confidence, and take up all the space that you deserve in the world.

We’ll hear stories from survivors and find out what worked for them and why. We’ll interview leaders in the field and talk about tips, concepts, and really easy things that you can do to make yourself safer and interrupt the cycle of violence.

I’ve taught self-defense classes for over 30 years and I promise to teach you everything I know!

Ultimately, I’m going to want you to get some in-person training, but a great empowerment self-defense class is more than just the physical skills. The list of things I want to teach you is endless, so let’s get to it.

My name is Silvia Smart, and welcome to the empowerment project.

I’m so glad you’re here! Welcome.

Hi, and welcome back! I’m glad you’re here. I’m really excited about this episode. In fact, I woke up thinking about it. We’re going to talk about body weapons and primary targets.

Up until now, we’ve been discussing lots of conceptual and preventative stuff, things you can use kind of lower down on the continuum of sexual assault. Things like trusting your body signals, understanding perpetrator behaviors, things like that.

Today, I want to go further down to the other end of the continuum where things get more violent, like scarier. This is where you decide to initiate a physical or fighting response. By the way, these physical skills are the ones you’re least likely to ever have to use, especially if you’re paying attention to the stuff that’s happening on the lower end of the spectrum, all the preventative stuff.

But it’s important to know. Why is it important to know?

It’s important because:

  1. I want you to have it if you ever need it. Period. Knowing how to fight could save your life or keep you from getting hurt.
  2. Experiencing how powerful you really are, is paradigm-shifting. That’s an experience I want you to have.
  3. That feeling of strength, that knowledge of your own capacity to fight fuels, your confidence. It backs up all the other components of your self-defense toolkit.

Let me describe what I mean. Let’s see if we can do this in a podcast. I haven’t done this before. Please play along with me. Let’s try this:

Wherever you are. slump a little hunch your shoulders, look down. Just start to imagine that you’ve had kind of a crappy day, you’re tired. Maybe you don’t feel well or you had a fight with your best friend. Just imagine that and kind of let your body relax into that. Okay, now stay there. And from that place where you are in your body kind of slumpy kind of low energy. imagine that you’re standing there with someone that you know, someone who has power over you, someone you work with, or go to school with, let’s say a boss, or professor or teacher. Now imagine you’re in the middle of a conversation with them about work or school. And they make a disparaging comment about your body, or your sexuality, or your skin color. So, imagine that from this kind of hunched over place. Imagine yourself standing up to them and out loud, tell them that’s inappropriate. That’s sexist, that’s racist. Feel that.

Okay. Now, take a deep breath. Let’s shake it up. We’re going to try another way. So, deep breath, straighten up your spine, kind of shake out your body. shake out your hands, shake out your fingers and your wrists and your elbows. Throw your shoulders back, stand in your power pose, or if you’re sitting like throw your arms up, feel the rush of power in your body. Watch yourself kicking a pad or hitting a bag and shouting at the same time. Now, feel the energy surging through your body. This is your raw power.

Now, from this place, imagine the same scenario. You’re in the middle of a conversation with this boss or professor about work or school. And they make a disparaging comment about your body, or your sexuality, or your skin color. And now, from this powerful place, imagine yourself standing up to them and telling them that’s inappropriate, that’s sexist, that’s racist. Can you feel the difference? Experiencing firsthand this power that you own, you own it in your body, with your body weapons, with your energy. This fuels the confidence in your words. And once you’ve experienced it, once you’ve hit pads, and felt how strong and powerful you are, and when you’ve done that, at the same time that you’re yelling at the top of your lungs, no one can ever take that from you. And THAT is the fuel that is going to empower the words that you use way down on the lower end of this spectrum.

Well, thank you for bearing with me and trying that out. I hope you could feel that shift. And I hope, I hope-hope-hope you get to an empowerment self-defense class soon so you can feel what I’m talking about for yourself. And for those of you who have experienced this, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Short Tangent: Self Defense VS Empowerment Self Defense

I have a little tangent. It will be very short. But you know, I talk a lot about empowerment, self-defense, what’s the difference between plain old self-defense and taking a class from the empowerment perspective? What does that mean? I’ve taken a bunch of classes over the years just to sit in on different workshops and see what other people are doing, what their endgame is. Here’s an example that’s kind of extreme. But this was like a regular self-defense class. It was taught by an ex-security guard.

Across the board, all of the participants left feeling more frightened, in fact, terrified, and they were way more frightened than they were when they walked in. The entire time the instructor talked about what not to do, how not to get raped. “Don’t do this.” “Don’t do that.” “You should never do this!” “You should always do that!” “If you do this, It could be really, really bad!” It was like all these rules to stay safe. And it ended up making everyone feel like getting assaulted was kind of inevitable. Especially if they didn’t follow the rules. And they were literally terrified when they walked out. It’s kind of hard to explain, but that would not be what I would call an empowerment self-defense class because everyone left so frightened. Empowerment self-defense is exactly the opposite. It means you don’t leave with a smaller, more narrow vision of what you should or should not do or can and cannot do. But with a sense of freedom and yeah, empowerment and a belief in yourself, your own power, your own ability to live fully and thrive. Period.

I’m very excited that Martha Thompson has agreed to let me interview her here on this podcast. She’s a martial artist, a longtime empowerment self-defense instructor, and a professor. She runs Impact Chicago. That’s an empowerment self-defense program. She’s done a lot of thinking and writing about what this term “empowerment self-defense” means. And she’s taught it too! So I look forward to talking with her and sharing with you what the difference is because if you’re going to take a class, I really want you to take the one where you leave feeling empowered, not the one where you leave, feeling more scared. Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for the episode with Martha. You’re going to love her.

Self Defense Story

Okay, that was a tangent. Before we talk about primary targets, I want to start you off with a self-defense story. A young person was walking home after school through the darkening streets of a big city where she lived as the sun was setting. She realized she was being followed by four “punks”, as she called them. To her right was a brick wall of a building and to the left or these guys in their pack.

As she walked, she picked up speed. But so did they. Two of the leaders stayed ahead of her off to the side but ahead of her. Then the rest followed either next to her or beside her. They then started to walk closer to her and hem her into the wall so that she would be trapped between them and the wall. One of the leaders grabbed her shoulder to push her into the building. What would you do? Her name is Abby. And we’re going to find out what she did in a little bit. But first I want to talk about primary targets because you know me, this story is going to illustrate primary targets.

What Are Primary Targets?

Primary targets are the most effective places to hit on an assailant’s body. That’s why they’re called primary targets. They’re called this because they cause an involuntary response. That means, even if the attacker is high, experiencing mental illness, they’re raging and really, really angry, or they’re huge and they’re scary, they’re bigger than you. These primary targets which cause an involuntary response mean that if you can hit to one, it can cause them to buckle, or have an involuntary response, which buys you time to get away. I want to tell you what the primary targets are and later on, when we’re talking about body weapons, I want to tell you which strikes are best to which targets. But the main thing to know about primary targets is they cause an involuntary response. And honestly, with the drugs that are out on the streets, a lot of times people don’t feel pain. So, being able to cause an involuntary response becomes really crucial in your self-defense.

By the way, if you’re at all squeamish, I apologize in advance, but please stay with me. Some of this is a little gross. But know also that hitting someone is always a choice that you can make. You don’t have to hit anyone, ever. But we’ve got to consider it because if they’re really trying to hurt you, knowing what you’re doing can help you stay safe. It can help you keep from getting hurt. So it’s always your choice. It always is your choice.

Okay, there are three primary targets. The first one is the eyes. Have you ever gotten something in your eyes like a piece of sand or dirt or eyelash or like – gross – a bug? Think about what happens. Your eyes close, they start to tear up and you blink. This is an involuntary response. So, what’s happening is out of your control. Imagine if you got a finger in your eye or a handful of sand or a fist. When and if the assailant is worried about, or not able to see, because their eyes have blurred, that may give you an opportunity to escape. Primary target number one eyes.

Number two, the throat. Take your fingers and just tap lightly on your throat like right on your windpipe kind of lightly. And then tap just a little bit harder, and then a little bit harder. And there’s a point at which you’re like, I’m not gonna tap it any harder than that because it hurts! That is your primary target number two. Primary target number two, the throat is a very vulnerable place. It’s a vulnerable target on anyone. Even a 300-pound weight builder, a football player, it doesn’t matter. There’s not a way that anyone can increase the muscle mass around the front of the windpipe to protect it. It’s very vulnerable. With not too much pressure, you can send the windpipe into spasms. And what I mean by that is if your windpipe is spasming, it’s going to be kind of hard for your assailant to catch their breath. They’re going to be kind of rasping as the windpipe spasms, right? So if they’re trying to catch their breath through the spasming windpipe, they’re going to be less concerned about what you’re doing, which means you might have the opportunity to escape. This is always our first choice in any self-defense situation: we want to get out of there. The windpipe. I also want to say that you can break the windpipe fairly easily, which causes death. So if you’re thinking that the windpipe has been broken, you probably want to call 911 and maybe even get out of there quickly. I don’t know. I mean, that’s going to be in the moment right? But it doesn’t take much to break the windpipe.

Think about it, all this stuff. I kind of want to say this, like all of these things are great to think about. So that in the moment, you don’t have to think about them. If you’ve already made a decision like, “Yeah, I’d be willing to do that if that meant that I would stay safe, that I would keep from getting raped or that I could protect my child.” Or, you know, whatever the case may be…then in that moment, you already made that call. It’s not something you have to second guess. So, primary target number two is the throat.

Number three, the sides of the knees. The sides of the knees are a little different than the front of the knees, although you can also hurt the front of the knees fairly quickly right underneath the kneecap. But it’s a little easier to hit to the side of the knee and break the knee. It only takes 20 pounds of pressure to break this joint from the side. What that means for you, in a self-defense scenario is that the person cannot put their weight on that leg. They cannot walk and they cannot run after for you. So that gives you a chance to get away. That’s what we’re looking for here. So any good kick to the side of the knees, and other strikes that we’re going to talk about hammer fist strike to the side of the knees are going to break that knee and give you the opportunity to get away.

So those are the primary targets. The really good places to hit but there are other ones too. martial artists will call these secondary and tertiary targets. But what’s important is just that, you know you can hit these places and have an impact. The impact might not be as intense. It might not cause an involuntary response, but it could be super painful and again, buy you time to get away.

So anywhere around the temple, or the jaw, if you hit hard enough can be a knockout blow all around the face, is sensitive and good. To hit the nose up into the nose can cause damage, it can cause a lot of blood, it can be very distracting for an assailant. So that’s also a good place to hit. The ribs are good, especially if you can break a rib which could puncture a lung. When I was growing up, we talked about the groin being a primary target, but not so much anymore. It’s not terrible, but we don’t call it a primary target anymore, really, because with this, the intensity of the drugs that people can get and take, they often don’t feel pain. And so a strike to the groin may not have the impact you wish that it would. You can try it but it might not be super effective. Another place you can hit is right into the solar plexus, which is – if you think of your ribs like an upside-down V, when they come together at the front of your body, the solar plexus is right at the top of that V. And if you press on it, you’re going to feel what I mean. If you were to hit someone in the solar plexus, it could cause them to lose their breath and spasm the lungs, and it also can really hurt. So pretty good place to hit. The ears can be awesome. Think about cupping your hands and smashing them together on the side of somebody’s head right into the ears. You create a of pocket of air pressure. And if you do that, with both at the exact same time, it can be incredibly painful and not just distracting but disarming to the assailant.

You’re going to learn different things from different empowerment instructors, and it’s all good. The more you know, the more you know! The more you learn, the more you learned! And the more options you have, the more options you have! So, take what I say, add it to your toolkit. Take what the other empowerment self-defense instructors are saying and add those things into your toolkit. I’m not the end all be all. It’s just, you know, me, I’m a self-defense geek. It’s something I love, but there’s a lot of great information out there. So. take in all that you can. Knowing what the primary targets are and defining what your body weapons are is all for one reason: To be sure that you have every opportunity at your disposal to get away to escape! All the preventative stuff that we talk about is about staying safe. But once we get to this place where we decide that we need to become physical, that we need to fight, our end game as your self-defense teachers is that we want you to be able to get away. That’s why we teach you this stuff.

Should I Carry a Weapon?

I want to move on to body weapons. But before we do that, I want to take a sec and talk about actual physical weapons, because it’s going to come up and some of you are probably already thinking about it. People ask me all the time about carrying pepper spray mace, guns, tasers, knives. I always say the same thing. Do it if you want to, but just do it mindfully, like know a few things.

I personally never recommend weapons, that we walk around carrying weapons period. That’s more my opinion, that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing. Everybody needs to pick what’s right for them. That’s for me. That’s my opinion as a self-defense instructor. I feel like in many cases that I’ve heard about carrying weapons can give people a false sense of security. And I don’t like that. I don’t want it for you.

And again, it doesn’t mean that if you’ve carried a weapon in the past, or that if you carry one right now that you’re wrong or that I think you’re a terrible person, not at all, not at all. This is my opinion. Let’s talk about it though. If you’re going to carry a weapon, there are things to think about things to consider, things that I really want you to do, like you have to train, train, train, train, train with your weapon. Whichever weapon you pick, you have to train in the dark. You have to train while you are moving. You have to train, what to do when your target is moving. If it’s a gun, it’s got to be loaded. It’s got to be available. The story that I told you about the lipstick in the last episode, if it’s in your purse, if it’s in your drawer, if it’s in a closet in a box, how are you going to get it in case of emergency? It has to be available to you. Have you practiced that? Have you practiced grabbing it out from under the safe in the dark?

Think about these things. That’s all I’m saying. Think about them very carefully, and train and practice and make sure you know how to use it. Weapons can be taken from you and used against you. Just know that that is a possibility. The last thing I want you to think about is unintended consequences. Other people getting hurt, not the assailant. They are wrong. The assailant is trying to hurt you. In my opinion, it’s okay for you to hurt them.

But just recently I heard yet another story of someone who watched a family member gets shot by accident, by her cousin who was a kid – when she was a kid. And how traumatic that was. These things happen. So just know that can be an unintended consequence of carrying a weapon with you. Because if you’re going to carry one it has to be available. If it’s going to serve your purpose, and having it be available to you means it may be available to other people, or to your assailant.

By the way, when I was out at the Portland FBI target range, I asked a couple of agents about this. I asked them like, what do you say to someone? Like, what would you say to someone in one of my classes who asks me about using a gun or taser? They were very funny. They thought it was a hilarious question, but a good one. And they said, “Well, you tell us! what do you say?” So I told them everything I just told you. All the warnings that I give. And they said, “Oh, well, that’s exactly what we say.” So, I felt very affirmed. But they added one thing that I hadn’t ever said because I had never thought of it.

What they recommend is if you’re going to have a gun in particular, make sure that you also have a good lawyer. Because if you hurt or kill someone with a weapon, you’re going to need a lawyer. And if you want to have that relationship established prior to the situation, that would be very, very good. So that you have someone you can call so you have someone who knows you. So just make sure that you have a good lawyer.

So to wrap this up, do what feels right. But really just think about it, consider all the angles. Don’t be impulsive and go out and just buy something because you want to feel safer. Really think about what that would be. And if you’re adamant about having or carrying some sort of weapon, just choose it thoughtfully and practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, and get to an empowerment self-defense class so you know how to use the weapons you always carry with you – your body weapons, please. Even if you just think of them as your backup. They are way more than just a backup. So, get to know them and practice with them too! Speaking of which, let’s talk about body weapons!

Body Weapons

Body weapons are exactly what they sound like, parts of our bodies that we can use to hit. Different empowerment self-defense teachers might have different names for these things. Or they might have a different take than I do about what’s important or what’s best. All of those are really only nuanced differences. And there’s nothing to worry about. It’s all good. Like I said before, just learn it all. Take it all in talking about body weapons is okay. But practicing them is way better. I want you to practice hitting with your body weapons I want you to practice hitting two primary and secondary and tertiary targets. As I said earlier, body weapons are exactly what they sound like, parts of our bodies we can hit with. What’s so awesome about them is we always have them with us. And no one can take them away. I mean, okay, sure someone could grab you by the arm. But then you still have your other arm, your fingers, your knuckles, your legs, your knees, your head, everything else.

So, let’s talk about them. Let’s start at the top of the body and talk about the head butt. So you can butt your head forward and hit someone with the top of your head or the front of your head, I should say. Think about it like this, if you were a goat, which I know you’re not, but if you were a goat, where would your horns come out? It’s like, the top of your forehead. On either side. If you feel that there are these two little lumps, those are the best places to hit your head with. Or wait, how do I want to say that? That’s the best place you can use when you hit with your head. That’s what I wanted to say. You can also, if there’s someone behind you, maybe they’re grabbing you from behind and they’ve got your arms pinned, you can also butt your head back. And that can be super effective. That can be super effective if you butt your head back into someone’s nose.

I had a little like six-year-old kid, butt their head back into my windpipe by mistake when we were practicing a self-defense move. I could hardly talk for days. So the head but back, super awesome. Another part of the head that you can use as your chin. If you clench and smashed down with your chin, that could be something that you use as a body weapon. Let’s talk about your teeth. You can always bite. You want to consider what illness or disease or bloodborne pathogen might be happening in the body of the person that you bite. But, hey, you’ve got your teeth and they’re sharp and you can use them if you want.

Moving down the body. Let’s talk about your shoulders and how you can use the bony parts of your shoulders to do a shoulder check. And let’s talk about the arms. So you’ve got your forearms on like the thumb side, which has a nice bone in it, which you can cause damage with. You could even just like pop it across the throat. Think about the other side of your forearm, the pinky side of your forearm. That’s a nice, powerful tool.

Elbows are great. your elbow is bony and pointy. You can elbow up, say up under the chin, across the throat, into the ribs or straight into the solar plexus. You can elbow back behind you. Say again, someone’s grabbing you from behind you take your elbow, boom, and elbow back right into that person’s body into their ribs into their solar plexus. Elbows are great. I happen to love elbows. You can elbow across to the temple, or the jaw, which can be a good knockout blow. You see where we’re headed here, right? The sky’s the limit here. This is you, your body, and your creativity, and whatever targets happen to be open, depending on what position your body is in.

Moving on down the arms, the wrists can be powerful, they’re bony, and you could hit with your wrist and you could hit again to the temple to the jaw into the throat. You’re getting the idea.

Let’s move down the arms into the hands. There’s the obvious punch. You make a fist and you punch. Punching. I don’t usually teach punching in an empowerment self-defense class because it’s, it’s easier to hurt yourself with a punch. Not I mean, not bad if that’s what you’re doing and you’re swinging your punches around and pummeling and hey, go for it. But if you make that same fist and you hit down like you’re hitting a hammer, we call this a hammer fist strike or an ape strike. You’re hitting down with the fleshy part of your hand. You can strike into the collarbone, you can strike into the throat, you can use it to strike and pummel around the eyes, the nose, the side of the face, the temple, the jaw, the ears, the ribs, the solar plexus. If you’re down on the ground, you can strike across to the side of the knee, or even the front of the knee up under the what is that thing called the kneecap? Like right up and under is a good place to either kick or strike. So, those are great strikes.

Let’s keep going with the hands because we’re not done yet. The hands have a lot of weapons. Think about knuckles, the knuckles that you use for punching, and then take that fist and open it up one knuckle. So, tuck your thumbs in and stretch out your hand so that your other knuckles like your middle knuckles are sticking out, you can hit with those as well. We call those snakehead strikes. Look at the thumb. If you’re tucking your thumb into the side of your hand, the knuckle of the thumb is sticking out. Imagine that going right into someone’s throat or into their eye.

Fingertips: we have a strike called an eye jab or an eye gouge. And think of the five fingers or the 10 fingers of your hands going towards someone’s face and into their eyes, smashing smooshing in, scraping across. It’s icky. It’s like jelly. But if you can push and smush and scrape, what you can do is you can create that involuntary response, and the person can’t see. They have a hard time seeing their vision is blurry, their vision is dim, their eyes are watering, and you get the chance to get away. So fingertips are great weapons. More on fingers grabbing, squeezing, ripping, twisting, tearing, scratching. Fingers, they’re powerful weapons. Still on the hands, there’s still more to go. The base of the palm.  There’s this part of your hand between the wrist and the palm, the very bottom part of it, and you can hit especially like up into the nose with the base of your hand. And that can cause a lot of damage. That’s a great strike. You can also use it to hit into the solar plexus or the ribs. Again, if you’re down on the ground, right into the side of the knee. That’s 20 pounds of pressure right there. I promise no matter how tiny you are, you can do it. Open up the webbing that’s between your thumb and the rest of your fingers. Make a “Y” with your hand. We call this a why hand blow or a Dragon Claw. Imagine the webbing striking into the throat. It goes right into the throat causing those spasms that we talked about. Then imagine your hands gripping and grabbing around the windpipe. So, also gross, but imagine squeezing, that’s going to cause that spasm. And you can even squeeze in and pull. Okay, then we have still on the hand, there’s still more. If you take your thumb and you actually tuck it underneath your palm, and you look at your hand, you’ve got your index finger all the way down to the base of its knuckle and right along there, it’s this bony part of your hand. With that, with your thumb, that creates a really great weapon. In our art, which I think I told you is called Poekoelan, it’s an animal style. And this is one of the strikes that come to us from the crane. It’s like part of the crane wing. So this finger side, “ridge hand” is what we call it or the thumb side of your hand into the throat into the temple into the jaw right into the ribs. Or perpendicular right up into the groin. Great strike. On the other side of your hand, what we call the blade of your hand which is the pinky side. This part of your hand is also a great weapon. Imagine it going right into the windpipe just smashing into the windpipe or smash Down in like a chop onto the collarbone or into the side of the neck, or across the eye, or into the solar plexus. So you can see that was that last little bit we were talking about was just the hand. It’s a really powerful tool.

Let’s keep going down the body and let’s talk about your hips. Your hips are strong. You can use your hips to do a hip check and really just pop someone’s body off and away from you, or cause them to stumble, which gives you a chance to get away. Hips are great because you can actually pick someone up with your hips if they’re grabbing on to you. Whether they’re choking you from behind or grabbing you around the arms, you can pick them up onto your hips, and toss them off onto the ground.

And then you can stomp them with your foot so let’s move on down the legs. Let’s start with the knees. This is always a crowd favorite in my classes and it’s super simple and really effective. So with your knee, first of all, it’s hard and bony and then it’s attached to your quad or your thigh. And you can use various parts of your knee and thigh. If you swing your knee up under and in, you can hit up into the groin. You can also pull your assailant’s head down and or across your knee and that could be a knockout blow. If they’re hanging on to you from the front, maybe they’re they’ve got you in like a bear hug from the front. You can grab back, grab around their back, and knee into the body, into their thighs up into their groin. You can also grab your assailant by their shoulders and pull them into your knee as you smashed your knee up and hit the ribs or the solar plexus. Knees are also very versatile. You can also hit across your body or down with your knee. So that’s probably more practice than you want or need. That’s more of like martial arts moves. And you probably won’t learn those in a self-defense class. But for sure, I hope you get to practice with the knee because it’s so powerful. It’s a great strike.

Let’s keep moving down the legs and let’s talk about your shin. Feel your shin feel that bone that is a sharp, hard bone and you can swing it up into the groin. You can swing it across the face. You can use it and slice right into the ribs. Or you can use it depending on your angle and you can hit into the side of the knee. Also 20 pounds of pressure.

Okay, let’s move down and talk about our feet. Let’s start with the heel. I mentioned earlier, you can stomp and the stomp is super easy. It does not take a lot of practice. And anyone can do it stomping down. Imagine that someone is grabbing you from behind and you lift your knee and stomp as hard as you can down onto their instep and break the bones on their foot. Or, imagine that you pick your knee up and stomp back into their knee. That’s a good stomp. You can use the same heel and you can use it to kick out in front of you or kick out to the side. You can use it and strike into the side of the knee. You can do a lot of things with this heel. You could even swing your leg up and come down with your heel, we call that an ax kick. Say you’re on the ground. And so is your attacker, and you pick your knee up and you swing your heel down right into their throat, into their face, into their ribs, into their groin, into their anywhere. Let’s talk about the ball of the foot. So that’s the, you know what that is the part right by your toes. So, you can use that part, the ball of the foot, and you can hit to the face or into the ribs. You can use the side of your foot, like the outside of your foot like a blade and you can kick into the throat or the solar plexus or the side of the knee. You can use the top of your foot, you can use the top of your foot and hit across to the side of the head or into the groin or to the side of the knee and you can use your toes. If you’re barefoot, you can jam your toes into somebody’s eyes. You can use your toes to grab and twist and smush.

I know I’ve forgotten some of the body weapons but you get the idea. You can tell that there are a lot of them and you can hit with any part of your body and use it and call it a weapon, a body weapon. Like I said before if someone grabs you by the hand, you’ve still got every other part of your body to hit with. If they’ve got your arms, you can still use your feet, you can still use your head, you can still use your hands and you can grab their groin and twist and smash it and there are still things you can do, you can elbow back. We’ve always got other body weapons available.

I know that some of you are thinking, “But what about me, I’m older, I’m out of shape. I haven’t done this in years or I am carrying more weight than I feel comfortable with.” Not a problem! I promise. Most people don’t want to be a martial artist and spend hours and hours practicing and sparring and fighting. And that’s the point of a good empowerment self-defense class. You will find out what your body CAN do. You don’t have to be young. You don’t have to be in shape. You don’t have to be coordinated. You don’t have to be an athlete to know and be able to do some of these simple things that you can use to keep safe. You just come to the class as you in all your beauty, just as you are. And you get to try lots of different things and see what works for you. What works for your body type in your stage of life. Most instructors are going to be able to modify things for you if you have, say, a specific injury or a physical challenge that we need to work around. This is what we do. And you can do this, I promise!

Now go and find a class or get onto our Facebook group and ask us for the name of the best class or school near you. So again, next time you’re on Facebook, go to The Empowerment Community. That’s our group. Check it out, ask to join, answer the questions, agree to the ground rules. We really want this to be a safe space. That’s what we’re creating it for. And this is going to be a place where you can get resources. Like we post handy links to informative stuff. You can ask questions you can say where’s the self-defense, the empowerment self-defense class closest to me? The moderators, all of whom are self-defense instructors will help you find that here in this Facebook group. We’d love to have you tell us your self-defense success stories and all that good stuff. We really look forward to seeing you there.

Self Defense Story Wrap Up

I want to wrap up our self-defense success story, the one I started at the beginning but before I do, I want to give a shout out to the Wetzel family. I’ve mentioned to you that I train and teach Poekoelan which was brought to the United States from Indonesia in the 50s by Willy Wetzel. He had a checkered life but was an absolutely amazing martial artist. Poekoelan is based in self-defense. It’s a Pencak Silat, which I like to describe as, like, the umbrella of martial arts from Indonesia, which was originally designed to be used in combat with multiple assailants. We have an awesome patch that we sew onto our uniform top directly over our hearts. This patch has a lot of symbolism, but the piece of it that connects directly to this episode is the arch of writing across the top that says, “My Body is My Weapon”. Willie Wetzel and his wife Gerry Wetzel designed the dragon, which is on the patch, and it’s beautiful. I’m going to put a photo of the patch up on my website on the page for this episode. So if you are interested, you can find it by going to Nagacommunity.com. And then across the navigation bar at the top look for resources. And when you pull it down, you’ll see the podcast there and go to the podcast page, find this episode and you’ll see the photo there. It’s really a cool patch. In a later episode, if we’re lucky, I hope that we get to talk with Wim or Jim Wetzel, who are the sons of the man who gifted so many of us with this incredible art.

But now back to the ending of our story. By the way, I read this story a long, long, long, long time ago in a really good book called “Her Wits About Her” which was edited by Denise Caignon and Gail Groves. They edited this book way back in 1987, which is a long time ago. But it’s full of great self-defense success stories that ring true across the spectrum of time. So back to our story about Abby. What did she do? As you recall, she was about to get shoved into the wall of a building by the leader of a pack of four guys. At the time, her hand was in her pocket and she suddenly felt a pen – like that you write with – and she just grabbed it. She pulled it out and “caught him with a swift uppercut in the soft spot between his neck and chin”, and “he was still standing.” But all the guys looked shocked. And so she took the opportunity to escape. She ran. Okay, but there’s the primary target, right into the throat.

She goes on to describe how she felt so icky afterward, which often happens in these self-defense success stories. None of us wants to hurt anyone. None of us do. But what could have happened to her if she didn’t react? And that’s the question. She also goes on to describe how the guys reacted as she was running. They shouted stuff after her like, “What did you do that for? We weren’t going to hurt you!” Which, by the way, is also very typical in these stories. It’s happened to me a million times. Of course, they were trying to hurt her. They were trying to scare her and intimidate her. What else do you think they were trying to do? Why were they doing that if not to hurt her? In self-defense classes, I always counsel when you speak up, when you name a behavior when you set a boundary or call someone out, when you protect yourself, always expect what I call blowback. The perpetrator, the person using their power over you, does not like getting called out. They will call you names. They will degrade you. They will tell you you’re a whore or use a racial slur, or make a homophobic comment, whatever they can to try to deflect the blame and turn it back on you. Almost always. Just remember They are the ones who are wrong, not you. What you and I are doing, we are protecting ourselves. They are the ones that are out of bounds.

Deep breath.

Okay, so now you know all about the primary targets and body weapons. Remember that knowing this is good information, but none of it is a substitute for a real live in-person empowerment self-defense class. So get yourself signed up. Go to The Empowerment Community on Facebook and ask us to help you find a school near where you live!

See you next time. And until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and be well.

Wrap Up

It’s affirmation time. This is how I end every self-defense class. It’s kind of cheesy, but it’s very cool. And this is how it works. We’re going to do like a little call and response. If you can say this out loud. If you can repeat after me, do it because it’s important, I think, for you to hear your own voice. But if you can’t, like if you’re on a crowded subway or someplace where It’s embarrassing, don’t worry, you can also just say it inside your head. Okay, so I’m going to say something and you’re going to repeat it after me. I’m going to give you space to do that. And at the end, we’re going to say “YES”! Here we go.

Repeat after me.

I am worth protecting.

I love myself.

I belong.

I deserve to take up space on planet Earth.

I am a strong and powerful person.


And hey, as a wrap up, will you do me a favor? Will you do all the things that you do when there’s a podcast like, will you tell your friends, will you subscribe? Will you come back each week? Communicate with me? Review this podcast? Will you please do all the things to help get more bandwidth, help more people find out about this podcast? That would be super awesome!

Take a deep breath. You are amazing. Thank you for being with me. See you next time.